Nightfreight Distribution (GB) pleaded guilty to breach of sections 2(1) and 3(1) HSWA following an incident in 2010. Russell Homer had left his engine running with the parking brake off when he got out of the cab to attach a tractor unit to the trailer. When he released the mechanical brakes on the trailer, the vehicle was able to move forward as the vehicles were on a slope. Mr Homer sustained fatal crush injuries.
The vehicle went on to move a further 27 metres before hitting a wall. Had it not been for the wall, there was a risk the vehicle could have rolled directly onto a public highway. During the HSE’s investigation,it found the practice of leaving the engine running with the parking brake off to be common practice amongst employees and Nightfreight had failed to monitor this. There had also been two previous roll-aways at the same site and whilst no one had been injured in either of the earlier incidents, Nightfreight should have gone further than merely issuing written instructions.
An improvement notice was served immediately after the incident which led to the installation of road humps in front of the rear wheels effectively preventing any vehicle from rolling even where the handbrake was left off. Nightfreight was fined £270k and £30k for the section 3(1) and 2(1) offences respectively, and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £26k.